The spiritual leader of The Church of Stop Shopping takes his anti-consumerist sermon from the stage to the page. Treat him as any other customer and do not respond to his or his devotees' antics. Ask him politely to leave the store. Call the ...
ll the police if he does not leave.from an internal memorandum circulated by the Starbucks Seattle head office to all branches, April 2000
The Reverend Billy is a revivalist preacher who leads the Church of Stop Shopping, an anti-consumerist communion devoted to putting the odd into God. Created by the actor Bill Talen, the Reverend first appeared alongside the sidewalk preachers in Times Square during the Giuliani years, bringing his new post-religious theology to eager crowds. In these pages we go inside the Disney Store on 42nd Street ("the high church of retail") to witness staged dramas against consumerism that employ 800 neurotic Disney characters with their "reeling eyeballs and sky-cracking grins" as the mise en scène. We encounter the icon-twisting logic of credit card exorcism performed in front of astonished tourists, and listen to a gospel choir made up of "recovering preachers' kids" singing anti-Starbucks anthems at the cash register of the $5 latte. We watch as the defense of a community garden is turned into an Off-Broadway hit and join with the Reverend as he preaches love and peace to the crowds that gathered spontaneously in Union Square after the attacks of September 11.